Drones against COVID-19

The members of Catalonia Smart Drones are contributing their expertise in various fields to assist during confinement and in the fight against coronavirus.

7th April 2020 – Amid the current state of alarm and strict confinement that the population in Spain is experiencing, many professionals work daily to help fight COVID-19 and ensure that all needs are covered for the rest of citizens.

The members of Catalonia Smart Drones have joined these professionals and are applying the potential of drones in the fight against coronavirus. Thanks to remote piloting, UAVs allow professionals and operators to stay away from the focus of infection. The main use cases identified and already being applied are:

  • Sanitary: drones equipped with thermographic cameras to measure people’s body temperature.
  • Cleaning: drones to apply disinfectants.
  • Transportation: drones to carry packages, medicines and other products. 
  • Surveillance: assisting security forces in patrolling and ensuring that the population is in compliance with the state of alarm.
  • Communication: drones carrying speakers to broadcast messages to the population.

According to a survey conducted from March 27th to 31st, the members of Catalonia Smart Drones are currently working in different solutions to help during the state of alarm, mostly in health and surveillance.

With regard to surveillance, local police in Barcelona, Badalona, Parets del Vallès or Matadepera are already using drones in their patrols. The company Droneless has provided technological solutions to help police combat the pandemic. Its drone GDU SAGA can locate pedestrians who are in violation of the lockdown, alert them with the speakers and measure their body temperature to detect if they have a fever.

On the other hand, FMIC (Facility Management for Critical Infrastructure) is collaborating with local police in Badalona by using EPIC drones (Individual and Collective Protection Equipment) to communicate with pedestrians remotely and reduce the risk of contagion.

Other companies in the community, such as SpaceSur, a member of the Newspace Barcelona Community, Dronelab, Deep Solutions, EbreDrone and DroneFUTURA, offer their services in the field of surveillance, either with satellite imagery, drones or through IoT solutions.

In the field of health, some members of the Catalan drone community such as FlyEquant and AIRK Drones are supporting healthcare professionals by making 3D printers available. In coordination with other Makers in Tarragona and Barcelona, they are printing protective screens for medical centers.

AIRK Drones is also designing medical equipment and 3D models, as well as assisting in the certification process. In collaboration with the Sabadell City Council, they are establishing an optimized distribution system among health centers in the municipalities. DeepSolutions, on the other hand, is developing a proof of concept (POC) using cameras and artificial intelligence to help hospitals in Catalonia measure patient’s temperature more precisely, incorporating parameters such as age, gender and many others to detect if they have a fever.

The company EbreDrone has made drones typically used in agriculture available to the administration to apply disinfectant products remotely.

Drones de Carreras (DDC) is also collaborating by making its expertise in technology and event production available to the COVIDWarriors association, offering help with audiovisual and streaming systems, 3D printing and robot configuration.

Pollution levels have dropped significantly throughout the country due to the confinement. DronFUTURA, which works with sensored drones devoted to measuring pollution levels at different heights and in a georeferenced way, is currently considering taking measurements in urban environments.

Some training companies are also doing their bit during lockdown. The pilot training division of Terradron offers free vouchers for online courses. AEROFOR Enterprise has released a number of videos explaining the possible drone activities that can be performed during the current state of alarm, both for professional and recreational purposes. In their videos they stress the obligation to comply with Royal Decree 1036/2017 and to disseminate best practices.